As the Tour de France rested in Pau yesterday, Bianchi launched their new Oltre XR superbike.
The current Oltre is being raced by the Vacansoleil-DCM pro team, and carried Thomas De Gendt to third place in this year’s Giro d’Italia. But although it’s an undoubtedly excellent bike, feedback from professional riders and Bianchi’s own development team led to the creation of the Oltre XR.
Present at the launch was Felice Gimondi, who won the Tour in 1965, was noticed by Fausto Coppi and brought in to ride for Bianchi. He spent the second half of his career with the team. He’s now a Bianchi ambassador and is said to have the company’s famed celeste green running through his veins.
The stated aims for the new bike were to improve rigidity, reduce weight and make a bike that’s simply faster. Nothing new there, then, but Bianchi pride themselves on being a high-tech company, and rose to the challenge.
Felice Gimondi with the new Bianchi Oltre XR
The headline figures are a claimed 20 percent increase in rigidity and 30g weight loss compared to the current Oltre.
Improvements to the rigidity of an already stiff frame may only be noticeable at the professional level, but Bianchi stressed that the new bike was developed to perform in the real world, not just to meet targets in a lab. The bike has been extensively tested by the Vacansoleil riders, and also in a wind tunnel.
The design process began with the right geometry, as the Oltre was already a fine-handling machine.
Introducing several acronyms, Bianchi outlined the technological features of the frame to BikeRadar. X-TEX is cross-weave carbon used in critical areas of the frame. Several layers of carbon strips are placed in a grid pattern and incorporated into the head tube, increasing torsional rigidity and only marginally upping weight.
Allied to the 1 1/8in to 1 1/2in tapered steerer tube and aero-shaped head tube, the front end of the Oltre XR is said to be ultra stiff and stable.
The svelte, hourglass frontal profile to the head tube flows into the narrow crown fork
The frame uses CNTT – a second-generation Carbon Nano Tube Tech with cyclindrical micro structures that are claimed to be 20 percent tougher and whose round shape helps avoid the development of cracks.
Bianchi’s WMP, or Wrinkleless Molding Process, minimises the amount of material used and gives a smooth carbon laminate, with no wasteful creases that could aid the formation of cracks.
Constructed from UMS40 and CN60 ultra high modulus carbon fibre, the Oltre XR has a huge down tube, incorporating a BB30 bottom bracket. There are deep chainstays, for strength, and ultra-thin seatstays to improve comfort. The 190g seatpost looks integrated, is aero shaped and has a one-piece clamp with titanium hardware.
The integrated-look, lightweight seatpost has a flush fitting clamp
Not forgetting speed, the Oltre XR features aerodynamic detailing from the straight, wing-like fork to the shaped head tube, down tube and seatpost. This should save power and aid handling stability. Cables are routed internally for clean lines, and Bianchi claim that a 55cm frame weighs a mere 895g (+/- five percent).
Four frame colours will be available, from the classic celeste and a Vacansoleil team replica to a red-and-black machine and another in a matte and gloss-black finish. Prices will be announced at Eurobike in late August, with framesets available soon afterwards.
The Bianchi Oltre XR in red and black, if you can break from the traditional celeste
Complete bikes will be on sale from the start of 2013, and come in a range of electronic and mechanical builds. Expect to see Campagnolo Super Record EPS in double or compact, Athena EPS compact, Super Record double or compact, Shimano Dura-Ace Di2 11-speed in double or compact, Ultegra Di2 10-speed in compact and a compact SRAM Red 10-speed. All will be matched by Campagnolo or Shimano wheels.
We hope to bring you a full bike test very soon.